HIGHLIGHT / PUBLICATION / JANUARY 2022
Maria Papathanassiou, “The Working Lives of Women in Rural Austria from the late 19th century into the interwar years: Remarks and Reflections”, Ethnologia Online, volume 11 /2021, Greek Society for Ethnology, 67-80.
Drawing on extensive life history records and contemporary ethnographic material, the paper discusses women’s labouring lives in rural Austria, with an emphasis on the eastern Austrian Alps, during the late imperial and the interwar period; it examines their lives within the context of household economy and in relation to individual experience. It traces the different places occupied by women of different ages (girls as well as older women) and different socio-economic backgrounds within rural, especially peasant, households, which, in their capacity as economic – labour units, functioned largely along pre-industrial norms in an age of otherwise high industrialisation.
Women performed a range of labour and were evaluated differently by rural communities. They worked from different positions within labour and socioeconomic hierarchies that largely privileged men in various (though not always visible) ways, whereas labour demands often clashed with pregnancy and the experience of motherhood. Yet women also enjoyed spaces of powerthat were inextricably linked with their everyday lives, acting as agents of their working lives.